Some time back, someone I knew died from overwork.
In the days leading up to the event, everything was normal. Everyone was working and getting things done. Things were hectic, but there was nothing out of the ordinary 60 to 80 hour work weeks.
Then one day, she said that she wasn’t feeling well. She disappeared from her desk and checked into a hospital. A few days later, she passed away.
Sometime later, the hospital determined the cause of death. She had been suffering from heart problems, which had been caused from working long hours. She was in her late twenties.
When people heard about it, there were widespread feelings of loss and sadness. But there was also another feeling: shock. Death from overwork?
It’s one of those things you hear about in the news, or somewhere far away. But to hear about it from someone you knew? It struck home.
Being surrounded by people with high aspirations gives you certain conceptions of how things “should” be. Yet after the incident, I started to see work in a different light.
I previously thought pulling long hours was a point of pride. People would brag about how much they work they did on a given week. Feeling exhausted, drained, and stressed were part of the routine.
That is, until something drastic happens to shatter that belief.
Lately, I’ve been practicing self-care more. I’ve started to value the importance of stopping once in awhile and enjoying the scenery, rather than always rushing forward to the next spot.
If you’re exhausted from constantly pushing yourself, perhaps these lessons can be valuable to you as well:
1. Schedule in regular “me” time.
Someone I know has a “no work” policy on the weekends. That means no emails, no working on projects, no meetings until Monday. To emphasize how strongly he believes in this policy, he expects the same from his employees as well.
When I heard this, I was skeptical. How could someone get things done if they simply went off the grid like that? I had always equated working longer hours with better results.